January 20, 2009

flocculate

The Word of the Day for January 20, 2009 is:

flocculate • \FLAH-kyuh-layt\ • verb

: to aggregate or coalesce into small lumps or loose clusters

Example Sentence:
During fermentation, yeast cells flocculate and either rise to the top or sink to the bottom of the vat.

Did you know?
In the late 16th century, scientists noticed that the loose masses separated from a solution or suspension through precipitation often resembled tufts of wool, and they began to refer to them as “flocks,” using another word for “tufts.” (This “flock” is not related to the word “flock” that refers to a group of animals, which comes from Old English “flocc,” meaning “crowd” or “band.”) About two centuries later, the Late Latin term “flocculus” found its way into English and was also used with the meaning “a small loosely aggregated mass.” By the end of the 19th century, a whole word family had been formed, including the adjective “flocculent,” the noun “floccule,” and the verb “flocculate.”

(thanks, Jill)

comments

  1. Elizabeth Perry on January 20th, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    My grandmother once gave me a T-shirt that said “floccinaucinihilipilification” on it. I think it was to commemorate the 500th anniversary of something, but I don’t remember what it was. Which seems appropriate, given the word itself.

    (Per Wikipedia: “the act of describing something as worthless, or making something to be worthless by deprecation.”)